Alcohol is not your pandemic pal

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/02/2020 12:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, a nonprofit clinic providing health and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma, supports Alcohol Awareness Month and its efforts to promote healthier coping mechanisms.

During this 2020 pandemic, government officials across that nation and world have implemented physical distancing measures to help flatten the curve by not spreading the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. With the promotion of physical distancing, many people are now left being isolated for an extended period of time.

“This period of isolation could lead to spikes in the misuse of alcohol,” said OKCIC’s Behavioral Health Director Misty Gillespie. “Stress is a prominent risk factor for excessive drinking.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that both men and women who reported higher levels of stress tended to drink more.

When challenged by stressful events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the body responds by shifting normal metabolic processes into high gear. This involves the brain to prompt key changes in the levels of hormonal messengers (cortisol) in the body resulting in the fight-or-flight response. Cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone, has been found to promote habit base learning.

“If you in your past have dealt with stress by excessive drinking, then you will be reactant to repeat the learned trait,” Gillespie said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alternative ways to cope with stress and anxiety include taking care of yourself; choosing healthier, well-balanced foods; exercising on a regular basis, getting plenty of sleep; and taking breaks if you feel stressed out.

Also, talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor or pastor. Take a break from the media. If news events are causing your stress, take a break from listening or watching the news. Look for reliable sources when searching for updated information, such as the CDC, World Health Organization and the U.S. Surgeon General.

Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor. Some are offering online sessions to promote physical distancing.

For information, call 405-948-4900 or visit www.okcic.com.

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